News & Politics

U.S. Refuses London's Request to Extradite Wife of American Diplomat Involved in Fatal Car Crash

Charlotte Charles, mother of Harry Dunn, who died after his motorbike was involved in an August 2019 accident in Britain, speaks at news conference (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The wife of a U.S. intelligence officer in Great Britain will not be extradited to stand trial for a fatal car crash that killed a young man.

Anne Sacoolas was driving near the RAF base in Croughton when a motorcycle driven by 19-year old Harry Dunn struck her car. Dunn died in the hospital later and Sacoolas immediately left the country under diplomatic immunity.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turned down the extradition request in an email to the British foreign office today, saying the request would “render the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity.”

BBC:

The Home Office said the decision appeared “to be a denial of justice”.

Extradition proceedings were launched earlier this month.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Seiger said the latest move had been “factored it into our planning and strategy”.

“The reality is that this administration, which we say is behaving lawlessly and taking a wrecking ball to one of the greatest alliances in the world, they won’t be around forever whereas that extradition request will be,” he added.

“We will simply plot and plan for a reasonable administration to come in one day and to reverse this decision.”

That’s not going to happen. It would be virtually unprecedented for the state department to rescind immunity for Mrs. Sacoolas, regardless of the reason. She claims she will not stand trial to serve time in a British prison “for what was a terrible but unintentional accident.”

Pompeo rightly says that ignoring Sacoolas’s immunity would “set an extraordinarily troubling precedent.” Immunity is granted for a very good reason: laws are different in every country and what might be a minor infraction in one state could be a very serious in another.

In the case of the death of Harry Dunn, the UK police are not saying there was negligence or reckless driving on the part of Mrs. Sacoolas. She was to be charged with “causing the death” of Harry Dunn by “dangerous driving.” Does she deserve jail?

Apparently, Sacoolas doesn’t want to risk finding out.

Dunn’s family says she was driving on the wrong side of the road — a not uncommon mistake made by American drivers in England. The British government says her mistake rises to the level of “murder.”

Reuters:

Britain on Friday scolded the United States for refusing to extradite a U.S. diplomat’s wife who was involved in a car crash that killed a British teenager.

“I called the U.S. Ambassador earlier to express the government’s disappointment about this decision,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

“We feel this amounts to a denial of justice, and we believe Anne Sacoolas should return to the UK,” Raab said. “We are now urgently considering our options.”

Certainly, Dunn’s family has plenty of grounds to sue. But to leave one’s freedom in the hands of a foreign government — no matter how friendly — is never a good idea.